Jetlag hasn‚??t troubled us overly this year, but on this hot Wednesday morning in Perth we found ourselves fairly and squarely in The Twilight Zone. ¬†As usual Bart and me ended up in bed together; Mike had his own suite upstairs at Chateau Stokes, of course. ¬†Both The Gaffer and I started to make movements towards our packs, to get suited up suitably for the day ahead. ¬†Pyjamas off, golf shirts and shorts on. ¬†Only was something wasn‚??t quite right. ¬†I had a Matrix Moment. ¬†
Looking back at Bartos I asked him why we‚??d got up; hard the alarm actually gone off? ¬†He looked at his watch and saw it was 6.20am ‚?? the iPhone wasn‚??t scheduled to disturb our coma until 0800 hours. ¬†Ha! ¬†We‚??d obviously just taken it as given from the other‚??s movements that It Was Time To Rise. ¬†Back to bed then... ¬†Goldy burst through our door some half an hour later, and found us dozing away fully (golf) clothed. ¬†He too thought we were running late, and that it must be time to get up. ¬†I explained what had happened, and that he too had got himself confused. ¬†So y‚??er man buzzed off and we all snatched a crucial extra hour of shut eye. ¬†Much drool found its way onto my pillow (sorry Mrs. Stokes!).
Over breakfast with Ned & Georgia we weren‚??t much chat, but did our best. ¬†Each of us looked worse than the other ‚?? like we‚??d been on a 72 hour bender in Vegas and not held back one bit. ¬†How encouraging it was though that I summoned the coordination to get the cornflakes from the bowl into my mouth. ¬†Without falling asleep while the spoon was half way through its journey north. ¬†
Today‚??s golf was not your ordinary affair either. ¬†Sam Hartrick a chief champ boss captain skipper from the Aussie PGA ‚?? who‚??d helped us out with a game or two earlier in the year around Melbourne ‚?? dropped us a note a few days back. ¬†Want to play in the Australian Seniors Open Pro Am at Royal Perth on Thursday lads? ¬†Why not... ¬†‚??Fresh‚?Ě after a 3am landing we found ourselves at the golf club around 8 hours later. ¬†There we met Sam in person for the first time; had a chat with Channel 10 for a news piece; and spotted a few legends of the game on the putting green (Lyle, Torrance, Woosie, Chook Fowler, Terry Giles, etc). ¬†Oh, and it was 38 degrees Celsius.
Baker Finch was on the microphone inside talking to a gathering of adoring lady fans. ¬†Granted, for an Australian, he has a rather endearing brogue. ¬†When he was hitting balls on the range next to me some 15 minutes later though I didn‚??t feel the need to tell him so. ¬†(Pardon me: I should say, when I was hitting balls next to him...). ¬†Nor did I ask him about his careless misplacement of The Plot after the heights of his success. ¬†No folks I just watched with interest and an ounce or two of admiration as he pelted a few iron shots down the way. ¬†
Unusually Michael and me were split up ‚?? which both of us with the best of intentions would say made for a nice change. ¬†I was teamed up with Terry Giles ‚?? West Australian farmer turned legend of golf ‚?? and a couple of tremendous humans named Tim and Keith I can only assume by their respective parents. ¬†Tim being a sales guy for Avis Car Rentals (a sponsor) and Keith being a Wakefielder who has made his home in Queenstown of all places. ¬†Terry also had a formiddable caddy in the form of Val, a member at Royal Perth and from what I could gather a very competent golfer more or less of his vintage. ¬†In typical ‚??Strayan fashion he flirted the whole way around with Val by showering her with false abuse. ¬†Funny creatures these ‚??Strayans. ¬†
In the heat we did the best we could. ¬†Which didn‚??t happen to be that good. ¬†I too was having a good old tussle with the 626 million flies that had found their way from the desert to Royal Perth courtesy of the hot East Wind. ¬†Giving it the Perth Wave an‚?? aw that. ¬†My new friends seemed to be amused by my epic struggle ‚?? noting that this was a pretty mild day on the fly front ‚?? but I took no notice of their ridicule and concentrated on the battle at hand. ¬†Apparently these particular flies are especially fond of moisture too (go figure), so they go straight for moist areas like your mouth and eyes. ¬†Excellent.
The course itself was tighter than most Wellington law clerks, which I can assure you is very tight indeed. ¬†Having just spent a week in the deserts of Dubai and Abu Dhabi ‚?? where there are no trees ‚?? this was something of a shock. ¬†Mediocre shots were punished more punitively than very poor ones, in the sense that going a fairway either side of the correct one wasn‚??t necessarily the end of the world. ¬†It was all academic though because we played an Irish Stableford (take the best tee shot of the bunch and play out from there, taking the two best scores each hole). ¬†While Tim, Keith and I peppered the gums Terry would step up and deliver another gun barrel straight blow. ¬†He even appeared bored by his straightness, almost as if he longed to hit an errant shot. ¬†Either that or in his head he was cursing at having been paired with such a thicket of talentless nitwits. ¬†It takes a while to gauge Terry I found, but after a while (i.e. once you feel comfortable enough to start slagging him off) he lowers his guard. ¬†When he laughed at a shanked 9 iron I hit on one of the par 3s I knew we were friends...
Ned very kindly walked around the course and offered words of encouragement (it would have been hard for him to offer words of congratulations...). ¬†Amazingly he got sick of watching us play after a hole or two, and instead chose instead to watch hackers like Woosnam and Torrance embarrass themselves. ¬†Word is Woosie was looking good. ¬†But the answer is Melville...Alfie Melville, of course.
After a delightful few hours in the company of my new friends I found myself under the comforting shade of the clubhouse deck. ¬†Cold beer and deli snacks were being served up to an ever growing contingent of sun battered golfers. ¬†We chatted some more; surveyed the talent; and managed to escape before the dreaded prizegiving and accompanying speeches got under way. ¬†Result.
One big thank you must to go Sammy Hartrick and Royal Perth for allowing us the privilege of lowering the tone at the Pro Am. ¬†Ditto to Ned for being good enough to, well, feed us, house us, ferry us around, and not laugh at our golf. ¬†And a personal thank you to my playing partners for being such good company despite my jetlagged state of consciousness. ¬†‚??Twas indeed a grand (albeit blurry) episode of puregolf2010.
Georgia then made the best cheesecake ever made, which we demolished without hesitation out on the deck under the Fremantle evening sun. ¬†Not bad ay?
JP ¬† ¬†¬†
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